Back for another nap, followed by a wake-up beer on the back patio with Kim, Charlie and the family, and then it was time for live music. Walking down Frenchman Street, clubs packed close with doors open so music blasts out with the A/C, was like twirling the knob on a radio that picked up only the best stations. Half of my New Orleans fantasy fulfilled! Eventually, we saw three bands in the space of ten yards. A Mardi Gras Indian band at d.b.a. ($5 cover) played some old favorites and then turned over the mic to a young man who is the second coming of James Brown. We bopped across the street to the Spotted Cat (no cover, one drink minimum per set) and heard a brass and string quintet rip the roof off some jazz and dixieland. And we rounded off the evening at the Apple Barrel (no cover, just chill). The bar was deserted, and we watched the bass player pack up, but guitars were out and amps were on, and the bartender assured us the band would play till the wee hours.
We sat at the bar with our drinks, and when three guitar players and a drummer rolled in from their midnight smoke break, we essentially had a private concert. Just us and them and their girlfriends at the bar and the bartender. I think they would have played even if nobody showed up. Some kiddies trickled in for rum and cokes, and the band let it rip with a Chuck Berry song. Suddenly we were at the hottest spot in town. Then, around 1:30, a woman walked in, stashed her purse behind the drummer and slung on a bass, and the band cranked out a Jimmy Reed song that set the place on fire. What kind of town is this? Is everybody a professional musician? Happily, I think the answer is yes. When we caught a cab home at 3am, the band was going strong. We stood, and did not sit, on the front steps for a final beer so the water bugs wouldn’t crawl up our legs.